Two days in two cities and five school visits provided Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opportunities to meet students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders and have engaging conversations about the importance of saving teacher jobs and quality public schools, including charter schools.
On Tuesday, May 18, Secretary Duncan spent the day in Brooklyn, New York, where he visited classrooms at Kings Collegiate Charter School, Public School (PS) 65, and PS 214. At Kings Collegiate, the Secretary spoke to fifth-graders and congratulated them on their success. Last year, Kings Collegiate’s sixth-graders scored 100% proficient in math and 96% proficient in language arts.
At PS 214, he was joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. Before visiting classrooms, the officials held a press conference during which the Secretary highlighted the $23 billion requested as emergency funds to avert layoffs of teachers and educators across the country.
Teachers are the heart of education, and in Boston on Wednesday, May 19, Secretary Duncan had ample opportunity to thank teachers for their commitment and dedication and to discuss the Department’s commitment to elevating the teaching profession.
During his commencement speech to the graduates of Lesley University, Duncan remarked that “teaching is one of the few professions that are not just a job or even an adventure—it’s a calling.” Why is it, then, that teachers are so poorly rewarded? He remarked that “it is a national embarrassment that elementary education is the lowest or second-lowest paid college major in the nation.”
This discussion about the important role of the effective teacher continued throughout the day as he visited Beachmont Elementary School in Revere, Mass., and Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston. At Quincy Elementary, 2nd and 3rd graders performed a traditional Taiwanese dance in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The day in Boston ended with conversations with Boston’s Educators of the Year.
Just last week, Secretary Duncan urged Congress to pass a pending $23 billion jobs bill that would save 256,000 teaching positions. His two days, in Brooklyn and in Boston, provided an “in the trenches” view of why the nation cannot afford to lay off teachers, the heart of our nation’s learning.